Thursday, April 30, 2009


The Supreme Court ruling today originated with a case over an appearance by Cher at the 2002 Fox Billboard Music Awards show in Las Vegas.

"As any golfer who has watched his partner shank a short approach knows, it
would be absurd to accept the suggestion that the resultant four-letter word
uttered on the golf course describes sex or excrement and is therefore
indecent," Justice John Paul Stevens said in his dissent. "But that is the
absurdity the FCC has embraced in its new approach to indecency."

"Today's decision is extremely disappointing," said Andrew Jay Schwartzman,
head of the Media Access Project. "We remain hopeful that the FCC's
restrictive policies will ultimately be declared unconstitutional, but there
will be several more years of uncertainty, and impaired artistic expression,
while the lower courts address the First Amendment issues which the court
chose not to confront today."

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Appeals panel: Court erred in 3M age bias case

Associated Press

Last update: April 28, 2009 - 12:47 PM
Featured comment

ST. PAUL, Minn. - A trial court erred when it ruled that an age discrimination lawsuit against 3M Co. could go forward as a class action on behalf of more than 4,900 current and former employees, the Minnesota Court of Appeals said Tuesday.

A three-judge appeals panel said the lower court did not properly apply the standards for certification under Minnesota's rules of civil procedure. It sent the case back to the Ramsey County District Court for further proceedings.

The lawsuit, filed in 2004, alleges that Maplewood-based 3M engaged in a pattern of age discrimination in five areas: performance appraisals, selection for training programs, promotions, compensation and terminations.

In seeking class-action status, the plaintiffs relied heavily on statistical analyses conducted by an expert they hired. 3M countered with its own experts who disputed the plaintiffs' methodology and said their own statistical analyses found no pattern of discrimination.

The appeals panel ruled that parties seeking class action status must prove by a preponderance of the evidence that they've met the certification requirements. It said that means district courts must address and resolve the relevant factual disputes, including disputes among expert witnesses. It said the district court did not do so when it certified the lawsuit as a class action.

The district court has the discretion to reopen the record and accept additional evidence when it reconsiders the certification motion, the appeals panel said.

3M is a diversified manufacturer that makes everying from Post-it notes to LCD screen coatings to car components.


On the Net:

The opinion cam be found at:

Wisconsin teen allegedly steals from cars to pay lawyer

ap wire;

BELOIT, Wis. - A teen allegedly broke into cars to raise money to pay a lawyer to defend him on other charges. A criminal complaint said a resident caught the teen inside his Chevrolet Camaro in his garage about 4:30 a.m. April 16 and tackled him and held him for police.

Officers found a GPS system, nine CDs and seven video games in his backpack. The criminal complaint said he took the items to help pay for a lawyer.

He was charged with felony burglary, possession of burglar tools and bail jumping.

The teen was charged previously with drug possession, disorderly conduct and theft of movable property.

Guess this guy didnt qualify for a public defender. There are many that "fall through the cracks."

Information from: Beloit Daily News,

Monday, April 27, 2009

HSUS reminds USPS about Animal Cruelty Laws

Subject: Federal Court Orders USPS To Reconsider Mailing of Illegal Animal
Fighting Mag.
Date: Sun, April 26, 2009 7:37 pm

WASHINGTON — A federal judge has ordered the U.S. Postal Service to
reconsider whether the mailing of certain animal fighting magazines
should be banned by the Postal Service because they violate the federal
Animal Welfare Act. The ruling comes in response to a case brought by
The Humane Society of the United States challenging the Postal Service's
denial of The HSUS' 2006 legal petition seeking to block the mailing of
advertisements for illegal fighting animals, knives and other
animal-fighting paraphernalia.

"We are delighted the Court has ordered this review of the Postal
Service's bizarre open-door policy for the animal-fighting industry,"
said Jonathan Lovvorn, vice president & chief counsel of animal
protection litigation for The HSUS. "The advertisement and sale of
fighting animals and weapons is a federal felony, and American taxpayers
should not have to subsidize animal cruelty."

The magazines at issue are frequently packed with advertisements for
fighting birds and the implements of illegal fighting such as gaffs and
knives (sharp instruments strapped to the birds' legs). Although illegal
in all 50 states, cockfighting remains a multi-million dollar business
in the United States, thanks in large part to these publications that
facilitate the commerce of the illicit industry.

Magazines like The Feathered Warrior are regularly sent in the U.S. mail
to subscribers across the country, and at a special reduced rate
subsidized by American taxpayers. Not only do these magazines frustrate
federal law enforcement officials' efforts to enforce laws against
cockfighting, but they also plainly violate the newly enhanced
provisions of the Animal Welfare Act.

Section 2156 of the Animal Welfare Act bans the use of the mail service
"for purposes of advertising an animal, or an instrument described in
subsection (e) [cockfighting knives and gaffs], for use in an animal
fighting venture, promoting or in any other manner furthering an animal
fighting venture." In the course of strengthening this provision in
2007, Congress noted that the "animal fighting industry continues to
thrive within the United States" and that "[n]umerous nationally
circulated animal fighting magazines still promote these cruel
practices, and advertise fighting animals and the accouterments of
animal fighting."

In its decision, the Court noted that "[p]ublications like The Feathered
Warrior are recovered in seventy-five percent or more of law enforcement
raids of illegal animal fights," and that The HSUS is entitled to
challenge the Postal Service's continued mailing of these materials
because "[t]he Humane Society has spent decades trying to reduce illegal
animal fighting in the United States," and "the need to care for animals
on an emergency basis is increased by USPS's circulation of The
Feathered Warrior . . . ."

To view the decision, please click here
greement.pdf> .

Saturday, April 25, 2009

The "Raging Monster Upon the Land," More on Overpopulation

Earth day failed again 39 years later

*by Frosty Wooldridge *

“The raging monster upon the land is population growth. In its presence,
sustainability is but a fragile theoretical construct. To say, as many do,
that the difficulties of nations are not due to people but to poor ideology
and land-use management is sophistic.”

Harvard scholar and biologist E.O. Wilson

Earth Day, April 22, 2009, galloped into town like John Wayne, but busted
leather hightailing away like Butch Cassidy, the Sundance Kid, and the Hole
in the Wall Gang. It arrived with hope and left in denial! Earth Day brought
projects promoting the “Green Revolution” that will save humanity, but it
failed, as it has for 39 years to address the underlying cause of every
environmental problem humanity faces.

Instead of facing our staggering planet eyeball to eyeball, we avoided any
meaningful discussion.The U.S. added 100 million people in the past 40
years. It's on its way to adding another 100 million in 26 years! The
planet adds 1.0 billion people every 13 years!

Nonetheless, a few intrepid writers and astute speakers sounded the alarm
loud and clear! You almost cannot help wondering how or why an educated
nation like the United States wants to follow in the footsteps of India,
China and Bangladesh. How long before Los Angeles resembles Mexico City with
24 million people gasping for a breath of fresh air? Can the leaders and
citizens of the U.S. be THAT stupid? As the third fastest growing nation
in the world, yes, Mr. Spock, Americans don’t show enough collective
intelligence to address hyper-population growth let alone stabilize it.

Thanks to Jennie Goldie for this article from *Science Daily*. See
“Worst Environmental Problem? Overpopulation, Experts Say” April 20,
2009) “Overpopulation
is the world’s top environmental issue, followed closely by climate change
and the need to develop renewable energy resources to replace fossil fuels,
according to a survey of the faculty at the SUNY College of Environmental
Science and Forestry (ESF),” said Jennie Goldie. “Just in time for Earth Day
April 22nd, the faculty at the college, at which environmental issues are
the sole focus, was asked to help prioritize the planet’s most pressing
environmental problems.

Overpopulation came out on top, with several professors pointing out its
ties to other problems that rank high on the list.”

“Overpopulation is the only problem,” said Dr. Charles A. Hall, a systems
ecologist. “If we had 100 million people on Earth — or better, 10 million —
no others would be a problem.”

Instead, we feature 6.7 billion humans, watch the population clock add the
numbers at these sites: ; Humans grow by a net gain of 77 million
annually. But we fail to see one world leader shed a blink for humanity’s

Dr. Allan P. Drew, a forest ecologist, put it this way: “Overpopulation
means that we are putting more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than we
should, just because more people are doing it and this is related to
overconsumption by people in general, especially in the ‘developed’ world.”

“But, whether developed or developing,” said Dr. Susan Senecah, who teaches
the history of the American environmental movement, “everyone is encouraged
to ‘want’ and perceive that they ‘need’ to consume beyond the planet’s
ability to provide.”

While the USA faces terrific water shortages in California, Arizona,
Colorado, Georgia and other states—it adds 3.1 million every year on its way
to 100 million added citizens in 26 years. Never mind that immigration
drives the population juggernaut that causes every crisis facing Americans!
Never mind the reason causing unending immigration: millions of third world
migrants flee their overloaded countries to save their own lives. In the
process, they overload host countries. Great Britain suffers 61 million
people in a landmass the size of Oregon, but expects and added 11 million
immigrants within two decades. Is that crazy or what?!

What do we face? You name it—gridlock, air pollution, bio-diversity
decline, crowding, loss of quality of life, acid rain, climate change,
oceans poisoned and much more.

“Experimenting with the earth’s climate and chemistry has great risks,” said
Dr. Thomas E. Amidon, who invented a process for removing energy-rich sugars
from wood and fermenting those sugars into ethanol. “This is a driver in
climate change and loss of biodiversity and is a fundamental problem
underlying our need to strive for sustainability.”

“Rounding out the top 10 issues on the ESF list are overconsumption,” said
Goldie, “The need for more sustainable practices worldwide, the growing need
for energy conservation, the need for humans to see themselves as part of
the global ecosystem, overall carbon dioxide emissions, the need to develop
ways to produce consumer products from renewable resources, and dwindling
fresh water resources.


Related post:

Friday, April 24, 2009

Impeachment Call for Federal Judge Bybee

It couldn't be worse if it were a horror movie about a covert U.S. government takeover:

A high ranking Justice Department official colludes with CIA higher-ups, gives green light to brutally torture prisoners in clear violation of national and international law. The torture continues for years. Justice Department official rewarded with lifetime judicial appointment - becoming one of the most powerful judges in the country.

But the scary thing is, it's not a movie. It's all true.

On Tuesday, Common Cause called for the impeachment of federal Judge Jay Bybee for his role in signing a 2002 memo released last week that authorized torture. And now we need your help to make sure there's enough pressure on Congress to launch impeachment proceedings.

Write a letter today to urge your Representative to launch impeachment proceedings against Judge Jay Bybee, click on title above

Bybee, then an assistant attorney general, signed the memo that authorized various forms of torture, including waterboarding, slamming detainees into a wall, putting them in "stress positions," and depriving them of sleep for up to 11 days. These techniques are illegal under U.S. code. They are also a violation of international law, and the United States' obligations under the Geneva Convention. Additionally, the conduct authorized by Bybee in these memos is morally reprehensible.

We need to restore our nation's integrity. And we need to start today by asking Congress to begin impeachment proceedings against Judge Bybee. If impeachment were successful, Bybee would be removed from the federal bench, and we, as a nation, would begin to bring accountability to these abuses of power.

Tell your Representative to launch impeachment proceedings on Judge Jay Bybee of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Thanks for all that you do.


Arn Pearson, Vice President for Programs
and the rest of the team at Common Cause

***See also: "NY Times Calls for Impeachment of ByBee"

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Murder conviction stands; prosecutor lacked license


A prosecutor's lack of a valid law license isn't enough to overturn the murder conviction she won against a Minneapolis man in 2007, the state Supreme Court ruled in a decision released today.

The ruling went against Alonzo J. Graham, who was found guilty of first-degree murder in a trial prosecuted by Assistant Hennepin County Attorney Gemma Graham, who afterward was found to lack a current license.

The two Grahams are not related.

The jury convicted Alonzo Graham of first-degree murder while committing or attempting to commit aggravated robbery, in the death of Paris P. Furcron, 29, of Burnsville, who was shot several times at a house in the 3000 block of 5th Avenue S.

Durrell D. Bobo of Minneapolis also pled guilty in the case. Furcron took Bobo and Graham to a house to buy marijuana. Bobo told Graham to shoot the residents, but he shot Furcron instead. Graham argued that his conviction should be overturned in part because Gemma Graham's license had been restricted for 20 years for failing to get continuing legal education credits.

"We hold that convictions obtained by a prosecutor who was unlicensed to practice law at the time of the conviction should be set aside only when the defendant is able to show prejudice warranting reversal," Justice Paul Anderson wrote in the unanimous decision.

The court found no prosecutorial misconduct and said Alonzo Graham did not show prejudice.

The court condemned the prosecutor's failure to follow the rules but noted that licensing issues are handled in the attorney discipline process.

As part of that process, the Supreme Court in February 2008 reprimanded Gemma Graham and placed her on two-years' probation. She continues to work in County Attorney Mike Freeman's office.

Freeman said Graham also was disciplined by his office. He added that he agreed with the ruling. "There is nothing in that trial that Gemma Graham did wrong that would warrant reversal," he said.

Gemma Graham's licensing problem surfaced just before Alonzo Graham was to be sentenced. A defense motion for a mistrial was denied.

Alonzo Graham appealed his conviction on other grounds too, but the court rejected them.

Rochelle Olson • 612-673-1747

Breech of Helmsley Trust Angers Animal Lovers

Helmsley Trust Awards $136-Million in Its First Round of Grants; Little for Dogs

By Maria Di Mento
April 21, 2009

The trustees of the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust
announced today that they are awarding a total of $136-million in
the foundation's first round of grants.

The announcement is significant not only because of the large amount,
but because only $1-million is going to support dogs and other animals,
which goes against Ms. Helmsley's wishes that the bulk of her estate
be directed to the care and welfare of dogs.

Of the 54 grants announced, one-year donations of $100,000 apiece
are going to benefit nine canine groups, and one group that benefits all

In February, a New York judge ruled that the trustees did not have to
limit the distribution of their grants to charities focused on the care
and welfare of dogs, a wish Ms. Helmsley, who died in 2007, stated
in a mission statement she signed in 2004. In that document, Ms.
Helmsley stated that she wanted the bulk of her estate —worth an
estimated $5.2-billion—to go toward the care and welfare of dogs.
When her estate is settled, the foundation she created is widely expected
to become one of the biggest foundations in the United States.

That mission statement revoked a previous document she signed in 2003
that said she wanted her foundation not only to benefit dogs, but also
to support "medical and health-care services for indigent people with
emphasis on providing care to children."

But the judge, Troy K. Webber, found that the document that originally
established the charitable trust does not require that the trustees refer
to the mission statement, and that it grants them "sole discretion" to
give money to any charity they choose.

Mr. Webber wrote in his decision that the trust document, "makes clear
that the trustees discretion to apply trust funds for charitable purposes
is not limited by any mission statement."

That ruling may have set a precedent for charitable bequests since it
raised questions about how closely trustees of estates are legally bound
to distribute donors' bequests to the causes they designated.The bulk of
the $136-million is going toward conservation, education, health and
medical research, and human services. The three largest grants include
$40-million to NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical
Center for a center for digestive diseases; $25-million to Mount Sinai
Medical Center for a center for electrophysiology; and $10-million to
Mount Sinai School of Medicine for an inflammatory bowel disease
center. All three institutions are in New York.

Criticism From Animal Groups

The trustees' decision to give only $1-million to animal groups in this
first round of grants has caused dismay among some animal charity
leaders. Wayne Pacelle, president of the Humane Society of the United
States called the amount "trifling" and said it was inconsistent with Ms.
Helmsley's stated charitable intentions.

"These resources could do tremendous good, as Mrs. Helmsley wanted,
in promoting shelter adoption and spay-and-neuter programs, stopping
puppy mills and dogfighting, and other programs to help dogs. We've
been in touch with interested parties and hope for a constructive
resolution," said Mr. Pacelle in a written statement.

But the trustees see their decision differently.

"We are continuing the philanthropic legacy of Mr. and Ms. Helmsley.
Throughout their lives, the Helmsleys were committed to helping others
through the innovations of medical research, responding to those in
need during critical times, and in other areas. We now have the privilege
of continuing their good works by providing support where it will make
a difference," said the trustees in a news release.

The five trustees are John Codey, an adviser to Ms. Helmsley; Sandor
Frankel, her lawyer; David Panzirer and Walter Panzirer, two of Ms.
Helmsley's grandchldren; and Alvin Rosenthal, Ms. Helmsley's brother

Until today, all five have been silent for more than a year about their
intentions for the foundation. Ms. Helmsley's estate is still being settled,
but given the financial crisis it could be worth much less than it was
when she died. For example, her estate is still in the process of selling
off some of her property including her Greenwich, Conn., mansion. The
40-acre property was originally listed at $125-million over a year ago,
but has since been cut by 40 percent. It is now listed at $75-million.

Click on title above to go to;

Note: Of the nine canine groups receiving $100,000 apiece,
8 are groups that use dogs to help people.

Crime, Convicts & Free Speech

From Wednesday's Globe and Mail
From Across the Pond

April 22, 2009 at 12:00 AM EDT

Convicted killer Colin Thatcher has written a memoir, and Saskatchewan's government is, understandably, unhappy that the former provincial cabinet minister might make money from his horrifying crime. But the government should be wary of drafting a law to seize the profits of criminals who tell, or sell, their stories. Suppress a Colin Thatcher today, and tomorrow the autobiography of a Malcolm X, or the plea for a new trial from a Rubin Carter, or the ruminations of a white-collar criminal such as Conrad Black, or the insider accounts of a war criminal such as Albert Speer, might be stifled. The U.S. Supreme Court has wondered if Henry David Thoreau's Civil Disobedience or the Confessions of Saint Augustine would have been written if the law had allowed payments to be seized from them.

The most repugnant scenario would be to let a serial child killer such as Clifford Olson, or a major al-Qaeda terrorist, make money from sharing his story. Ontario, Manitoba, Nova Scotia and Alberta have laws enabling the government to seize the profits of such books or recollections. But it is risky, in several ways, to use the worst-case scenarios to justify suppressing an individual's right to free speech.

Consider a criminal who – like Mr. Thatcher – argues he was wrongfully convicted. Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, sentenced to die in New Jersey for murder, wrote a book while in prison, and his conviction was overturned. And what of battered women who kill a violent spouse and are convicted for it? Shouldn't they be permitted to argue that they were unjustly convicted, or punished excessively?

Suppressing speech from a class of people, in this case convicted criminals, is risky in itself. Convicted people may have certain experiences that the public could benefit from hearing; these could be about life in prison, or about the inner workings of the Mafia, or a terrorist group, or about the justice system or police, or their parents and the schools, or the life that ex-criminals have when released into the community.

It is hard to imagine who would wish to buy Mr. Thatcher's self-justifying tome, to be published by ECW Press of Toronto. He killed his ex-wife JoAnn Wilson (née Geiger) after a bitter custody battle, and spent more than two decades in prison before being paroled. Apparently he learned nothing. But he (or those in a similar position, since Saskatchewan is not proposing a retroactive law aimed at Mr. Thatcher himself) did serve his time.

It is unjust, even loathsome, when crime pays. But governments should be careful about depriving convicted criminals of the right to expression.

A Lawsuit for the Birds

Center for Biological Diversity Takes First Step in Lawsuit to Stop
Beach Driving From Killing Snowy Plovers

OCEANO, Calif.— The Center for Biological Diversity today filed a formal notice of intent to sue against the California Department of Parks and Recreation over its ongoing authorization of motorized vehicle use at the Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area, which is known to result in mortality of wintering snowy plovers—a threatened species.

“The Endangered Species Act prohibits anyone, including state agencies, from killing, harming, or harassing listed species like the snowy plover,” said John Buse, a Center for Biological Diversity senior staff attorney. “Despite observations of snowy plovers crushed and terrorized by vehicles, the Department of Parks and Recreation has done nothing to stop further harm to wintering plovers.”

For Immediate Release, April 21, 2009

Contact: John Buse, Center for Biological Diversity, (323) 533-4416

Center for Biological Diversity Takes First Step in Lawsuit to Stop
Beach Driving From Killing Snowy Plovers

OCEANO, Calif.— The Center for Biological Diversity today filed a formal notice of intent to sue against the California Department of Parks and Recreation over its ongoing authorization of motorized vehicle use at the Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area, which is known to result in mortality of wintering snowy plovers—a threatened species.

“The Endangered Species Act prohibits anyone, including state agencies, from killing, harming, or harassing listed species like the snowy plover,” said John Buse, a Center for Biological Diversity senior staff attorney. “Despite observations of snowy plovers crushed and terrorized by vehicles, the Department of Parks and Recreation has done nothing to stop further harm to wintering plovers.”

The Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area, in southern San Luis Obispo County, includes about 1,500 acres of sand dunes and 5.5 miles of beach areas open for use by motorized vehicles. The Area is operated and managed by the Department of Parks and Recreation’s Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Division. Street-legal vehicles can be operated on the beach in the northern portion of the Recreation Area, while the southern portion is open to off-road vehicles and motorized campers.

But the Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area is also home to hundreds of western snowy plovers, a small shorebird that is protected as a threatened species under the federal Endangered Species Act. Snowy plovers nest and breed in the Recreation Area between March and September, with most individual birds returning year after year to the exact same nesting spots, generally in flat open areas such as beaches and sandspits. Many snowy plovers also remain in the Recreation Area after the end of breeding season and throughout the winter, where they are vulnerable to disturbance and to being struck by vehicles.

In addition to managing the Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area, the Department of Parks and Recreation permits special off-road vehicle events and races. As a result of a previous Center for Biological Diversity lawsuit, during one such event in October 2008, the Department deployed biological monitors to determine whether snowy plovers were harmed. Monitors reported that one plover was found dead in tire tracks and appeared to have been crushed. In addition, monitors observed dozens of snowy plovers “being terrorized” by vehicles on the beach.

The notice provided to the Department of Parks and Recreation announced the Center’s intent to sue if the Department fails to take action to prevent future injury to snowy plovers. “For a species as imperiled as the snowy plover, any harm or harassment matters,” said Buse.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 220,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

Animal Cruelty Videos on the Net: Will the Supreme Court Buy it?

Patt Morrison, LA Times UnLeashed
April 22, 2009

It is almost as disgusting and vicious as animal cruelty and torture itself, that someone would get away with claiming 1st Amendment protections for making a living by selling videos of it.
The Supreme Court is set to hear a case from a man appealing his conviction for selling videos of pit bulls fighting. A federal appeals court had agreed with him that while the dogfighting is illegal, selling pictures of it is not.

Go ahead, switch on the DVD. Wow, dogs ripping the jaw off a terrified pig -- that's entertainment! (And that's one of the videos this man sold.) Animal cruelty is illegal in every state in this country. It is a crime. To make money off a crime is to compound the crime. That's one of the many good reasons that child pornography is illegal.

So to say these videos can be sold and distributed even though the acts they show are against the law -- you might as well do the same for human ''snuff'' films depicting murders, because that's all that these are. Snuff films of animals. "It isn't murder, your honor -- it's free speech!"

Congress has already outlawed at least some of this reprehensible trade. It passed a law 10 years ago -- a law sponsored by a Simi Valley Republican congressman named Elton Gallegly -- to ban the sale of cruelty videos, like the ones showing women wearing spike heels impaling and crushing small animals to death with their stilettos.

So 10 years later, this is a free speech issue?

If the justices find that videos of these cruelty crimes are legal, even though the acts themselves are not, they will be winking at, even encouraging, what might monstrously be called the cruelty entertainment industry -- all the dogfighting, the ''crush videos,'' the unspeakable acts of torture and abuse.

Who cares if it's illegal to stage, as long as it's legal to film? Selling DVDs and videos of it, making money on websites showing this vileness, will only encourage more cruelty and violence. After all, the bail, the fines, the defense lawyers and the court costs for staging the illegal violence can simply be paid for by the profits from the ''free speech'' entertainment sales. Merely a cost of doing business. Welcome to Corporate Cruelty America Inc.

This isn't about the 1st Amendment protecting hateful speech -- it's about trying to pervert the 1st Amendment as a shield for murder, for a ''business'' built on the blood and pain and terror of blameless and defenseless creatures.

-- Patt Morrison

Our BK Lawyer Makes the News

...and come to find out, she is PRESIDENT of the BK Bar! You just go girl Barbara!

New state law stalls foreclosures
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
By Jason Subik (Contact)
Gazette Reporter

CAPITAL REGION — The Capital Region’s five-county core saw 287 houses in various stages of foreclosure in the first three months of 2009, a 52.8 percent drop from the fourth quarter of 2008. But the drop in foreclosures is likely due to a new state law that places limitations on the foreclosure process, a bankrupcty lawyer’s group says.

In comparison, first-quarter foreclosures nationwide are up 23.6 percent from the fourth quarter of 2008, according to California-based online foreclosure tracking firm Their report showed 803,489 foreclosures nationwide for the first quarter.

According to RealtyTrac, one out of every 159 homes in the nation is in some stage of the foreclosure process. The states most heavily hit by foreclosures were California, Florida, Arizona, Nevada and Illinois, which combined account for 60 percent of the nation’s total.

In New York state, foreclosures dropped 23.37 percent from the fourth quarter of 2008, totaling only 11,017, or one out of every 721 housing units.

Capital Region Bankruptcy Bar Association President Barbara Whipple said the steep drop in foreclosures in New York likely reflects legislation signed by Gov. David Paterson in August requiring lenders to send borrowers pre-foreclosure notices 90 days before issuing notices of default. The law, which took effect in phases, also mandates that lenders hold settlement conferences with certain subprime borrowers. She said the conferences can take an additional 30 days to set up and longer to resolve, further extending the foreclosure process.

“These judicial conferences are somewhat bogging down the system now. I think actually getting to a foreclosure sale is taking a lot longer than ever before,” Whipple said. “At these conferences, they try to renegotiate the loans before they go into a complete foreclosure situation. It’s slowing things down, but I’m not sure how optimistic I am about the outcome in the long run. If the loan is too high to begin with and you can’t make a meaningful modification of the loan, you’re just putting yourself back in a position where you’re eventually going to default.”

According to RealtyTrac, there were zero notices of default — the first stage of the foreclosure process — in New York state during the first quarter. California, by contrast, had 124,875.

In the Capital Region, Albany County had 110 properties at foreclosure auction during the first quarter, Schenectady County had four and Saratoga, Rensselaer and Schoharie counties had none. Banks repurchased 35 homes in Albany County, 19 in Rensselaer County, 11 in Saratoga County, two in Schenectady County and one in Schoharie County.

Going forward, 138 properties have been listed for eventual foreclosure sale in Albany County, 51 in Rensselaer County, 46 in Schenectady County, 29 in Saratoga County, nine in Rensselaer County and one in Schoharie County.

The Albany-Schenectady-Troy metro area ranked 186th in foreclosures among the 200 metro areas profiled by RealtyTrac.

Greater Capital Association of Realtors CEO James Ader said the numbers in the Capital Region reflect the relative strength of the economy here. He said although state legislation may have only slowed down the foreclosure process, the slowing down will help maintain home equity in New York state.

“It’s good. The more foreclosures that come on the market, the more it tends to depress housing values,” Ader said.

Leona's Will is Thawarted

Despite clear language in Leona Helmsleys' will that her entire fortune be left to the cause of dogs,....

Dogs Get Small Bite of Helmsley Grants


NEW YORK -- Trustees for the estate of Leona Helmsley announced $136 million in charitable gifts Tuesday, using their court-sanctioned authority to override the wishes of the late real-estate tycoon, who wanted her money spent on behalf of dogs.

Associated Press
Leona Helmsley and her dog Trouble photographed in 2003.

Ms. Helmsley, who died at age 87 in August 2007, sparked a legal fight by leaving instructions in her will to administer money from the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Trust to "purposes related to the provision of care for dogs." Trustees went to court to determine their discretion in giving the money away, arguing that the will didn't exclude other charitable pursuits. A judge ruled in February that trustees could give the money as they saw fit.

The largest of the trust's initial grants -- $40 million -- went to New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center. A small portion of the grants, $1 million, went to dog-related causes, including the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and various charities providing dogs for the deaf and blind.

About $115 million went to medical research overall, including work on diabetes, digestive diseases including Crohn's and colitis, heart disease and Alzheimer's. Money also will go toward improving rural health care.

Other grants went to homeless shelters, food banks and emergency-services programs in New York. The trust also funded causes aiming to promote youth educational opportunities and environmental-conservation efforts.

"Throughout their lives, the Helmsleys were committed to helping others, through the innovations of medical research, responding to those in need during critical times and in other areas," the Helmsley trustees said in a statement, making no specific mention of Ms. Helmsley's affinity for dogs. "We now have the privilege of continuing their good works by providing support where it will make a difference."

Ms. Helmsley's fortune had been estimated at $5 billion to $8 billion after her death.

Write to Mike Spector at
My thought: How odd that most of the Helsmsley Trust went to medical research instead of for the care of dogs. Now, as a result of trustee mis-management, the money is going to organizations that may use dogs for medical expirements!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

OvPop Cases: A New Area of Law?

Here is something different to think about for a change from the usual political or "hot topic" issues. The subject of overpopulation has been around for awhile, though it seems, to me anways, that it has lain dormant over the years and has taken a back-seat to the many other "more pressing" important issues our nation is facing today. Eventually, we are going to have to deal with it. I am a strong supporter of animal breeding controls (and taxation) and now I am thinking, realistically, I think,, ah,....why not the regulation of human procreation? Do we really have any choice, realistically speaking I mean? Of course, there is no doubt that the earth cannot sustain us all if we continue to go on breeding uncontrollaby like rabbits. What are we to do? There is only one thing to do. Enact new laws, like China. Say, how did that work out anyways? Has China got its population under contol? There is a new research project for me. I heard they kill the newborn baby girls. I wonder is that true. Anyways, the subject indeed deserves our attention.
Hope you enjoy this article as much as I did. I find the author to be not only interesting and articulate but highly intelligent also. I think I will bookmark his site for future reference. Remember, we have to always think about the future in our lives. Why? For the sake of future generations to come, for the sake of the children. What worthier goal could there be?

Too Many Children? Oh God, Here We Go Again

by Eric Steinman Mar 28, 2009 7:34 am

filed under: Babies, Children, Family Life, Parenting at the Crossroads, Pregnancy, , christian, evangelical, quiverfull, religion

“Be fruitful and multiply” (Genesis 1:22; 9:7)

I am not a religious man, but I don’t have much of an interest in passing judgment on those who are. I figure, with the world being what it is (equal parts wondrous and horrendous–eh, maybe not always so equal) that one needs to find inspiration and guidance where it is available. But to me, in my limited secular view, religion seems like a very personal choice that should be ever-evolving and subject to speculation and maturation overtime, not something that you are born into as minion or disciple.

As a continuation of an earlier post (“Too Many Children,”Original Article;

I am delving into the idea of what constitutes too many children and what motivates parents to indiscriminately multiply like rabbits.

As a parent myself, I could honestly say that God (or G-d if you are Jewish) didn’t really make an impact on my choice to procreate or say–just act like I am trying to procreate. But for many of the pious and devout, religion is the sole determinant to having children.

Take for instance the Quiverfull movement;

This is a evangelical religious movement existing largely in the United States (with populations in Canada, Australia, and the UK as well) that follows a sort of biblical mandate, and thoroughly believes that God, and only God, should and will determine what the right number of children should be for any given family, because ultimately it is God’s design.

Therefore, for those of the Quiverfull faith, (One Womans Story;

the idea of birth control, sterilization, or even abstinence among married couples is an anathema. The result is (as anyone could guess) abundant Quiverfull families packing into Sunday church meetings and staunchly following the psalm that inspires their name:

“Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them.”

Normally this sort of thing wouldn’t bother me, let alone get my attention, but there is an element here that is a bit less wholesome and slightly more disconcerting with the modus operandi of the Quiverfull faith. Beyond setting out to be fruitful and multiply, the Quiverfull objective is to multiply the faithful and rework the balance of Christians against the non-believers and non-Christian faiths of the world. With increasing numbers, it is the belief of the Quiverfull faithful that they will be able to repopulate the world of the “morally-lapsed” and take over cities like San Francisco and trouble spots like the U.S. government. This breeding of a Christian army is seen as a direct effort to protect the likes of evangelical Christians against the rise of moral relativism, Islam, secularism, and the like.

Now, I don’t doubt that Quiverfull parents love all of their children (even if they can’t keep all their names straight) but I do wonder why? Why, in an effort to propagate ideas, however important they may seem to you, do you have to assign them to a unique individual (or individuals) to carry them out? Isn’t this something we could and should do on our own, without burdening our children or our population index? And is one group or individual’s fear of religious or cultural obsolescence enough of a reason to add a few names to the census roster? Does this even work?

Feel free to enlighten me.

Click on title above to go to the authors site w/comment section;

Illinois Residents Exposed to Potentially Carcinogenic Drinking Water

About 11, 250 suburban Chicago residents have potentially suffered long-term exposure to cancer causing chemicals through contaminated well water, according to a recent report in the Chicago Tribune. The report has prompted Illinois Governor Pat Quinn to order an inquiry into why Crestwood residents were not informed about the contaminated drinking water.

The well water was reportedly polluted with vinyl chloride and perchloroethylene, which are believed to have originated from dry-cleaning facilities located in the area. Both of these chemicals are known carcinogens and are also associated with other severe health problems.

According to the Tribune report the contamination went on for years before the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) put a stop to it. Furthermore, the EPA never notified the residents that they were at risk.

While there is a law, initiated in 2005, which states that a notification must be issued if residents are exposed to contamination through groundwater or soil, a loophole in the law allows for environmental regulators to notify city officials only, and not the residents, and this appears to by what has happened.

APRIL-22-09: Contaminated drinking water discovered [UPI: CONTAMINATED DRINKING WATER DISCOVERED IN ILLINOIS]

If you think you are effected by this contamination, contact me and I will put you in touch with a law firm initiating a class action:

Supreme Court of the United States to Hear Animal Cruelty (Crush Video) Case!

Crossposting for HSUS; Remember our "Idiot Judge" who ruled that animal cruelty (crush) videos on the internet were protected under the 1st Amendment? Well, the highest court in all the land has decided to review this case and the idiot judges' decision..this is indeed a rare circumstance as less than 3% of all petitions (or writs) submitted to the Supreme Court are heard. This will be the first animal rights case to ever come to the high court, and its findings will be important in that a favorable ruling would set a precident that that whole country will have to follow, including the idiot judges.

April 21, 2009

Supreme Court to Decide on Depictions of Animal Cruelty

It’s a rare circumstance when the U.S. Supreme Court agrees to review a case related to animal cruelty, but yesterday was such a day. The nation’s highest court granted a petition to examine a case made possible by the enactment of a 1999 law banning the commercial sale of videos depicting extreme and illegal acts of animal cruelty. The measure, the Depiction of Animal Cruelty Act—carried a decade ago by Congressman Elton Gallegly (R-Calif.)—was prompted in part by an HSUS investigation that uncovered an underground subculture of “animal crush” videos, where scantily clad women, often in high-heeled shoes, would impale and crush to death puppies, kittens and other small animals, catering to those with a sexual fetish for this aberrant behavior. Surprisingly, we found thousands of separately produced videos available for sale on the Internet—causing untold suffering to thousands of animals.

After the law passed, the purveyors of crush videos fled the business, knowing that we could locate their videos and bring their illegal commerce to the attention of federal enforcement officials. The market for their product collapsed. The law had an immediate and sweeping impact on the industry, but it was also put to use to arrest several people involved in distributing videos of dogfighting, which of course is a felony offense in all 50 states and a federal felony as well. It was the arrest of Robert Stevens in Pennsylvania for this distribution that led ultimately to the case now before the Supreme Court.

© The HSUS

A federal jury convicted Stevens of violations of the Depiction of Animal Cruelty Act in 2005. However, last year, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit ruled that the law was unconstitutional, deciding that preventing animal cruelty is not a compelling state interest.

In response to the law being struck down, crush videos—like a bacterial infection responding to the withdrawal of an antibiotic—have surfaced again and spread.

The Solicitor General filed a petition to have the Supreme Court review the case, and The HSUS filed a brief in support of the government’s position. The Court granted the government’s petition, and the case should be heard sometime this fall.

The Depiction of Animal Cruelty Act criminalizes depictions of animal cruelty that have no significant redeeming political, social, or artistic value. This is essentially the same test for stopping the production and sale of certain forms of human obscenity. There is no reason that videos depicting cruelty should get more First Amendment protection than pornography does.

Indeed there are strong arguments that such material, like child pornography, should not be entitled to any First Amendment protection at all. The makers and sellers of these videos are not making an argument or expressing a viewpoint—they are simply profiting from extreme cruelty, from predation on the weakest among us. This is a far cry from the values that the First Amendment is supposed to protect.

We wouldn’t allow people to sell videos of people actually abusing children or raping women, and the same legal principles are at hand with malicious acts of cruelty, which are a felony in some form in every state. The federal Depiction of Animal Cruelty Act is an essential complement to the state anti-cruelty and anti-animal fighting laws, which alone do not equip law enforcement with the tools to stamp out the national and international traffic in the videos that are anonymously produced and staged for the sole purpose of inflicting cruelty. The sale of these videos is often the only public act that law enforcement can identify, and the revenue from the sale of these videos enables even more criminal behavior. We should not give the perpetrators immunity to stage illegal animal fights and, if they avoid getting caught, to profit from the sale of videos.

Animal cruelty laws are older than our Republic, and reflect our country's best values of decency and mercy. The sociological evidence is now unambiguous that people who commit egregious acts of cruelty are often involved in other criminal behavior, including violence against people. Our society’s interest in cracking down on crush videos and staged animal fighting films is not only compelling in the legal sense, it’s vital to protect animals and the larger community from violence, drug trafficking, and other crimes that flow from the morally deadened hearts of people who perpetrate malicious cruelty.

Ill. Law will Ban "Loose Cats"

Please send to any IL contacts you might have. Thanks!

An incredibly dangerous bill, H.B. 2703, is being considered by the Illinois House of Representatives. The bill will require animal control officers to pick up and impound any cat found "at large" -even those whose owners have let them out for a short period.

Impounding cats means bringing them to the shelter, where their fates are grim. Not only would pet cats found outdoors be in danger, but so would every single stray and feral cat living in the state.

In addition to the "at large" provision, the bill targets many parts of Illinois law favorable to feral cats and their caregivers.

See the letter Alley Cat Allies sent to Illinois State Representatives.
Illinois residents only - Take action.

Click on title above to see sample letter;

-----Original Message-----
From: Katie Walter []
Sent: Sunday, April 19, 2009 11:13 AM
To: Undisclosed-Recipient:;
Subject: ILLINOIS - Anti Cat Law Being Proposed
Importance: High

From: Joyce E. Maser-Ellis
Sent: Sunday, April 19, 2009 11:03 AM
ILLINOIS - Anti Cat Law Being Proposed

Please help stop an IL. bill that is pending in the IL. House, that would cause many more cats to be impounded and killed in Illinios.

IF you go to: and click on the action center, you can send a pre-written email to oppose this bill. It will take one to two minutes. If you have time, customizing your letter would be great too.

Even if you don't live in IL, please consider sending a letter to the committee members to show your opposition.

Please forward this to everyone you know and put it on your facebook, twitter and websites.

Thank you.

Forwarded message from Alley Cat Allies -

Dear Animal loving friends,

The Illinois House of Representatives is considering a bill that could drastically increase the number of cats impounded and killed in animal pounds and shelters.

In 2008, those facilities killed 60,673 cats, according to data Alley Cat Allies obtained through the Freedom of Information Act; they returned only 2,991 cats to their owners. In spite of these horrendous statistics, H.B. 2703 would require
animal control officers to impound any cat found "at large."

Please contact your State Representatives to urge them to stop this dangerous bill.

H.B. 2703 was proposed by approximately 50 Illinois county animal control officers.
In addition to the "at large" provision, the bill targets many provisions of Illinois law favorable to feral cats and their caregivers. They have even hired a lobbyist to promote their agenda.

Please act immediately and # 151; write to your State Representatives now.


Becky Robinson
President, Alley cat Allies

P.S. Go to: and click on action center to read the letter Alley Cat Allies sent to Illinois State Representatives opposing this bill.

P.P.S. Please pass this letter along to others who are concerned about cats being impounded and killed.

Dog, Cat Breeders Losing Sleep Over Retail Ban

CA - South Tahoe enacts ban on dog, cat sales

Tue Apr 21, 2009 2:34 pm (PDT)

Forwarded message - for info, please visit

CA - South Tahoe enacts ban on dog, cat sales

APRIL 21, 2009

A ban on the retail sale of cats and dogs was approved earlier this
month by the South Lake Tahoe City Council to curb the resale of
dogs and cats bred in puppy mills.

Breeders still can sell directly to people, and stores can work with
rescue groups and shelters to have cats and dogs adopted at their
businesses. The ban affects no other animals.

"We understand that this is the first such ordinance in North
America," said Dawn Armstrong of the Lake Tahoe Humane Society
& SPCA. "Others can now take courage. With the investigations and
the work being done in Southern California and in other states, it
just may be the beginning of the end of the puppy mill industry."

The ordinance takes effect May 5. The only retail store selling pets
in South Lake is Broc's Puppies, where owner Denny Franks called
the ban disappointing and vowed to sue the people and groups involved.

"I'm not sitting still and just taking a beating," Franks said, adding he
plans to seek an injunction to stop the ban.

He said the puppies he gets are purchased from places that have
been inspected as clean and properly caring for their dogs by state
and federal authorities.

"No one has shown me that one puppy I've sold originated in a
puppy mill," he said.

Franks said he didn't understand how "hobbyist" and "backyard"
breeders, who are not affected by the ban, can continue to sell
puppies even though they don't have to be inspected or have
any government oversight while he has complied with all laws.

"All's I'm trying to do is stay alive," he said. "Because of all this trash
they've thrown on me, it has brought my morale down. I'm having
trouble sleeping at night."

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Savana Redding / Strip Searching of Minor Case

When Savana Redding was just 13 years old, she was strip-searched by school officials for allegedly possessing prescription-strength ibuprofen. This traumatizing search was based solely on the false and uncorroborated accusation of a classmate who was caught with similar pills.

Overzealous school officials violated Savana's rights and called into question basic constitutional protections for all students in schools across America.

This morning, the Supreme Court heard arguments from ACLU attorney Adam Wolf in this powerful case.

Savana and her mother, April, recorded a short video with Graham Boyd, an attorney here at the ACLU who is working with them. I think you’ll find it moving to meet a real hero who’s taken her case to the Supreme Court.

Please, click on title above towatch this powerful video, and send a message of support to Savana and her mother.

It offends both common sense and the Constitution to undertake such an excessive, humiliating search based on nothing more than an uncorroborated accusation.

We hope the Supreme Court will recognize that such violations have no place in America’s schools and will act to protect the privacy of all children.

Savana Redding and her mother have endured a lot in the past six years to bring their case this far -- they deserve our respect and our thanks. Please take a minute to write a message of support. It will be included with messages from ACLU supporters all across the country and presented to Savana and her mother in the weeks ahead.

Without people like Savana and April willing to walk into court to defend their rights, much of the ACLU's work would not be possible. We owe them more than our admiration. We owe them a debt of gratitude.

I hope you'll listen to their story and share your message today.

Thank you for supporting this fight.


Anthony D. Romero
Executive Director

Appeals court allows home search in Kansas


- A three-judge panel of the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals has overturned a decision by federal judge in Kansas to throw out evidence obtained during a search of a suspected drug dealer's home.

In a ruling Monday, the appeals court reversed an order from U.S. District Judge Monti Belot relating to a search warrant in the case against Michael Biglow. Belot had ruled last year that there was not enough probable cause for the search warrant to link Biglow's Wichita home to criminal activity.

But the appeals panel disagreed. It said it's just commonsense that a drug supplier would keep evidence of his crimes at his home.

Biglow is awaiting trial in a 2007 federal indictment on drug-related charges.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Cal Introduces a Civil Gideon Bill

Feuer: Protecting Low-Income Tenants
Thursday, April 2, 2009 – By WeHo News Staff, West Hollywood

West Hollywood, California (Thursday, April 2, 2009) -

Continuing his pioneering ways, 42nd District Assembly member Mike Feuer (D-West Hollywood) introduced a bill this legislative session that would provide a right to counsel for low-income people in critical civil cases.

42nd District Assembly member Mike Feuer (D-West Hollywood) introduced a bill this legislative session that would provide a right to counsel for low-income people in critical civil cases. Photo by WeHo News.

The right to counsel is already provided to people facing criminal charges; this bill would expand those services to critical civil cases, such as eviction proceedings, that can have a serious impact on a person’s life.

The bill, Assembly Bill 590, would make California the first state in the nation to offer such services.

"In this economic downturn, many Californians are facing homelessness for the first time in their lives,” said Mr. Feuer.

“Now more than ever, we must take steps to ensure that essential legal rights regarding basic human needs – including shelter – are not sacrificed or abandoned simply because someone cannot afford to hire a private lawyer to assist them.”

Currently, attorneys are appointed for indigent parties only in criminal cases.

42nd District Assembly member Mike Feuer (D-West Hollywood) introduced a bill this legislative session that would provide a right to counsel for low-income people in critical civil cases.

However, legal officials agree that some issues decided in civil cases can be just as significant as in criminal cases, such as cases involving the elderly and individuals with disabilities, and the well‑being and safety of parents and children, and the basic need for adequate shelter.

AB 590 would support the project through a $10 increase on certain court fees when a party wins a case, without drawing on scarce state funds.

The measure reflects a growing national movement in the legal community known as "civil Gideon" after the name of the Supreme Court case establishing the right to counsel in criminal cases.

The concept is endorsed by judges, legal leaders and scholars, including the American Bar Association, the California Commission on Access to Justice, and the Conference of California Bar Associations.

Court observers generally agree that without a lawyer, most people cannot win, even when the law and the evidence is on their side.

As retired Court of Appeals Justice Earl Johnson has noted, lawyers are as essential to the proper operation of the courts as clerks, bailiffs and probation officers.

When one side lacks such representation, the entire system breaks down.

Feuer also noted that timely access to legal counsel can help prevent more costly problems later.

"This bill is not just about fairness and justice, it is in our economic self interest,” Feuer said.

“Just as health services can decrease the need for expensive ER treatment, timely access to legal services can prevent an illegal foreclosure or other problems that can lead to homelessness, saving taxpayers money."

West Hollywood contracts with Bet Tzedek to handle civil legal matters for low-income people, but their system is being overwhelmed with new clients.

Nonprofit legal aid organizations are struggling because of funding cuts as the result of the recession, coupled with increased need for legal services.

"It is a basic principle of the legal system that the outcome of a case should not depend on whether you are rich or poor,” said Julia Wilson, Executive Director of the Legal Aid Association of California

“But legal aid programs are not adequately funded, and without advice and assistance many laws are not enforced and poor people lose their legal rights simply because they cannot afford a lawyer,” she said.

Furthermore, Ms. Wilson said, “Assembly member Feuer's bill is an important step to help address the enormous justice gap that now exists between the legal needs of low-income Californians and the services available to assist them."

EPA Gets Sued (again)

From AnimalPersons Blog. Click title above to go there.

Although it’s long overdue, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced that six greenhouse gases *may* pose a health risk and are a serious threat to our planet. This has been something leading scientists and environmental organizations have said for years, of course, but better late than never (if there is a “late”, of course).

I should point out that the only reason the EPA looked into this matter is because they were ordered to by the United States Supreme Court in Massachusetts v. Environmental Protection Agency. That’s right, it took the highest court in the land to rule that the EPA should consider doing it’s job.

The results of the EPA’s required investigation are not startling - the anthropogenic (caused by humans) sources of carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons and sulfur hexafluoride pose a serious health risk to ourselves, nonhuman animals and our planet.

So, what about these gases - how does it relate to farmed animals?

Let’s start with methane. Methane is produced naturally from a variety of sources, including wetlands. Natural production of methane comprises 40% of total output…the other 60% is produced by human activity. In the United States, as of 2003, the livestock sector accounted for nearly 30% of methane production (part of that is from enteric fermentation and part of it is from manure lagoons), landfills for about 24% and natural gas production for another 24%. Worldwide, the livestock sector comprises 37% of anthropogenic methane emissions. Methane is 23 times more “warming” than carbon dioxide.

Next up is nitrous oxide, which is generally produced from the oxidation of nitrogen compounds. The number one source of nitrous oxide is from “soil management”, more specifically from fertilizer. Most fertilizer contains the manure of animals. According to the EPA, nearly 70% of nitrous oxide production can be traced back to soil management or application of fertilizer. Worldwide, the livestock sector is responsible for 65% of nitrous oxide production. Nitrous oxide, by the way, is 270 times more “warming” than carbon dioxide. The overwhelming majority of nitrous oxide emission can be attributed to the sheer volume of manure produced by the billions upon billions of animals farmed for their flesh, milk and eggs.

The livestock sector is responsible for about 9% of anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions. The majority of carbon dioxide produced by humans comes from the production of coal and natural gas, along with petroleum. The livestock sector makes up for it’s lack of carbon dioxide production by exposing our planet to more powerful greenhouse gases, methane and nitrous oxide.

You can read a bit about the powerful hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons and sulfur hexafluorides here.

It is doubtful that we will hear from our government officials on how a vegan diet can help the planet and our health. Agribusiness has been getting away with polluting our waterways, destroying our land and poisoining our air for years. They have oppressed our rural communities without legal or monetary recourse. The workers they employ are exploited and silenced. And they have reduced sentient, feeling beings to mechanized units of production by the tens of billions. And we have let them. Legislation isn’t going to fix this problem. We can, but only by changing our behavior.

How you can help:

We know that industrial agriculture is wreaking havoc - the planet, human health, wildlife and domesticated species of animals are suffering. There is nothing more powerful than choosing to be part of a sustainable future. It’s easy too - eat a plant-based diet. Remove meat, dairy and eggs and focus your efforts on purchasing whole-foods from as local as possible (reduces transportation-caused negative effects) and as affordably as possible. Learn more about community supported agriculture here. Cutting out as much meat, dairy and eggs as possible will go a long way to promoting a present that will allow for an actual future.

As to the EPA findings - once they are placed in the Federal Registrar’s docket, there will be a 60-day public comment period….you will have an opportunity to voice your opinion on what our government should be doing about this issue. There will also be public hearings in May.

Visit 1800blogger to see all of our industry leading blogs.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Talk about Bad Judges

Fed. Ct. Judge Bybee

NYTimes calls for Impeachment of Torture Memo Author

Sunday's New York Times called on Congress to impeach federal judge Jay Bybee over his now infamous role in authoring one of the Bush administration memos arguing for the legality of torture.

"These memos make it clear that Mr. Bybee is unfit for a job that requires legal judgment and a respect for the Constitution," wrote the paper. "Congress should impeach him."

Separately, Sen. Claire McCaskill left open the door to pursuing such a course during an appearance on Fox News Sunday. Asked by host Chris Wallace whether she would favor the impeachment of Bybee, who sits on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, the Missouri Democrat replied: "I think we have to look at it. But I think we do need to sort out how do you get lawyers at the top levels of the Justice Department to give this kind of advice."

"The lawyers that gave this advice, what's scary to me is one of them got a lifetime appointment on the federal bench," McCaskill said earlier. "Yikes! A lawyer responsible for this kind of advice that clearly went too far in terms of stretching what our law is. It worries me that he's sitting on the federal bench right now. Now, whether we should go down the road, I don't think we want to look in the rearview mirror. I think this president has made that very clear. We've got big problems ahead of us we need to focus on. But I do think there probably needs to be more questions asked of the lawyers who gave this advice."

Congress has the political authority to impeach a lifetime-appointed federal judge, but it's unclear whether the move would have sufficient support. The Senate confirmed Bybee by a 74 to 19 vote, and many congressional Republicans would likely resist impeachment.

But as the New Yorker's Jeffrey Toobin recently noted, Bybee was confirmed before the torture memos became public:

Today, Bybee is a judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. He was confirmed by the Senate on March 13, 2003--some time before any of the "torture memos" became public. He has never answered questions about them, has never had to defend his conduct, has never endured anywhere near the amount of public scrutiny (and abuse) as Yoo. It is an understatement to say that he has kept a low profile since becoming a judge.

Bybee is generally the forgotten man in torture studies of the Bush era. The best known of the legal architects of the torture regime is John Yoo, who was a deputy to Bybee. For better or worse, Yoo has been a vocal defender of the various torture policies, and he remains outspoken on these issues. But whatever happened to his boss?
Judge Jay Bybee signed the first of four infamous Bush-era memos authorizing torture -- torture in the name of the people of the United States. George Bush then awarded Bybee his lifetime appointment as a federal judge.

Fire Judge Bybee now:

The torture techniques Bybee authorized are illegal, both by U.S. laws and by international treaties we have sponsored. Bybee broke the ethical, professional, and legal standards that should govern lawyers. Judge Jay Bybee has neither the legal nor moral authority to sit in judgment of others, and should be impeached.

The first step to remove Bybee from his lifetime appointment is for the House Judiciary Committee to hold hearings.

You can send an email directly to key Judiciary Committee staffers. They want to hear from you:

Tell them torture is not an American value, and ask them to take the next step to fire Judge Bybee.

-- J. R. Boynton and the CAP Action Engagement team


I Am Progress is a project of the Center for American Progress Action Fund, the sister advocacy organization of the Center for American Progress. CAP Action transforms progressive ideas into policy through rapid response communications, legislative action, grassroots organizing and advocacy, and partnerships with other progressive leaders throughout the country and the world. The Action Fund is also the home of the Progress Report and Think Progress, the blog that pushes back daily.


Saturday, April 18, 2009

Judge allows wife to harvest dead husband's sperm

Left to right: (front row) his mother Carmen; his fiancee Gisela Marrero; his father Johnny Sr.;( back row:) his brothers Elvin(l) and Alex.

BY Dorian Block

Saturday, April 18th 2009, 4:00 AM

Schwartz for News
Left to right: (front row) his mother Carmen; his fiancee Gisela Marrero; his father Johnny Sr.;( back row:) his brothers Elvin(l) and Alex.

Take our Poll
Harvesting sperm
Should a woman have a right to become pregnant by her partner after he dies?

Yes: It allows for her partner to live on

No: That's gross!

Related News

Cold, hard facts when it comes to extraction
The clock began ticking down on a dream Friday when a Bronx judge granted the last wish of a young man who died too soon.

As Johnny Quintana's chilled body lay in a hospital, the judge gave the dead man's fiancée the green light to harvest her dead lover's sperm - and preserve his legacy for the future.

"The day before he passed away, we talked about planning for our future, buying an apartment and having another child," said Gisela Marrero, Quintana's fiancée and the mother of his 2-year-old son. "This was his wish. It's the last thing I can do for him."

For sperm to be viable, it must be harvested within 36 hours of death. When Supreme Court Justice Howard Sherman ruled, they had just four hours left.

The family rushed out of the courthouse and faxed the paperwork to The Sperm and Embryo Bank of New Jersey, which rushed their staffers to Jacobi Medical Center.

Marrero's mom prayed they would make it in time.

"I want my son's sperm to live," Carmen Moreno, Quintana's 56-year-old mother, said through sobs as she testified.

"The Lord took him away from me. This is the only way for him to live on. He wanted this. He wanted this."

The race against time really began at 3:30 a.m. Thursday when Quintana, a seemingly healthy, 31-year-old concierge and auto mechanic, collapsed and died while watching an episode of NBC's "The Chopping Block" on a computer with his brother.

Through her tears, Marrero remembered their last talk about the future and immediately asked Jacobi if it would be possible to remove and preserve Quintana's sperm.

Under law, it takes a court order.

So while Quintana's body was placed in a cooling room and an ice bag was placed on his testicles to preserve his potential progeny, Marrero set about preparing a funeral - and building a legal argument.

Much of Thursday was spent frantically calling sperm banks, lawyers and arranging for an emergency hearing before Sherman.

To argue a case that Sherman said is unprecedented in New York, they enlisted lawyer Nelson Stern, who usually handles disability cases.

Earlier this month in Texas, a judge granted a mother's right to extract and preserve her son's sperm after he died in a fight outside an Austin bar.

Sherman said he was not aware of any cases like this one in New York. "There is very little precedent," the judge said after the 10-minute hearing.

Nevertheless, Sherman ruled in favor of the family.

"There is no basis, as far as I know, not to let them do this," he said. "Under this kind of tragic circumstances, this is all that is left for them."

"Thank you so much. Thank you!" Quintana's parents cried out and collapsed into each other's arms in tears.

"I know he wanted his son to have a brother or a sister," said Alex Quintana, 26, as he kissed a photo of his brother. "He wanted to give me another niece or nephew."

Marrero said she is not sure when she will use the sperm to try and give their son, Lucas, a brother or sister.

"I wanted to get through this hurdle first," she said. "We talked about this so many times. I'm very hopeful."

An autopsy was scheduled to be performed to determine what killed Quintana, who lived in the Allerton section and worked as a concierge at an upper West Side condominium.

Several of Quintana's organs will then be donated - so he lives on in others.

"All our dreams we accomplished together," Marrero said of the man she began dating when she was 18. "He was my best friend, the love of my life."

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Ask the Experts / Probate

Subject Mishandling of estate by executirx

QUESTION: My mothers will said that her estate, after certain bequeathments, was to be equally divided between us eight siblings and one charity. My sister was the executrix of the will. We knew ma wanted her to have mas trailerhouse but sis moved into moms house even before the will was probated, moreover,.. she immediately began to throw moms things out without even telling any of us siblings. One of my sisters was appalled when she walked into the corner thrift shop as she usually does, and found a rack of my mothers clothing hanging there for sale! I would have never have known myself that she was "cleaning house" unless my husband didnt happen to drive by one day to see how things were going. He shocked me that afternoon when he came walking in with an armful of some of my mothers favorite things that sis told him "he could take" cause she was giving it all away to charity. My mother wasent dead two or three days at this time and sis never let us know that she was getting rid of mothers stuff, clothes, nick nacks, furniture, etc. Nevermind any sort of accounting or even division of property. She never said a word to anyone about either.She kept all moms personal property that was worth anything (3 color tvs and 2 brand new top of the line beds, a grandfather clock, etc. Moreover, when it came time to distribute the funds, because of an old issue she has with me, she decided to give a portion of my share to someone not even mentioned in the will! HERE IS THE RUB: When I complained about it she told me that I was lucky to get any money because mom had put her name on all of her accounts and that meant that the money in those accounts was hers and NOT a part of the estate.
Well sir I found this to be true. HOWEVER, she also freely admits that the reason my mother put her on all of her accounts was because mother knew that sis would "do the right thing" with the money and divy it up according to her will. Therefore, eventhough legally she didnt have to give any body any money, if she DID NOT, she would be going against my mothers wishes according to her will.
Whats more,...(I am sorry to be so long winded, but)
by "hiding" estate assets that way, the she was able to file (skip probate) by declaring that my mothers estate was worth under $20,000 (which, in fact, it was worth more like $100,000 when all is said and done).
It has been almost two months since she filed the paperwork for a "small estate," and I am wondering if there is anything I can do to sue her to get that portion of my inheritance back from her that she gave to someone else.
Any information you can provide me would be greatly appreciated.

ANSWER: No, there is nothing you can do except to wait for the probate process to play out to see if you will be receiving anything at all. The money your sister gave away was HERS to give away to whomever she saw fit--why can't you see she just said she was giving away your share just to AGGRAVATE you? You have no legal grounds or basis for suing her for anything. This happens all of the time--greed causes family members to argue about anything and everything.

---Volunteer Expert: Keith Northington

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thank you for your reply. I understand that, despite her knowing and saying (admitting) it was moms wish to equally dispurse the funds, in reality, she can do anything with the funds she wants, as her name in on all the accounts (jointly, with my deceased moms name) However, what about all the personal property of my mothers that she dumped and those things of value she decided to keep for herself? Wasent that part of my mothers estate that was to be equally divided among the siblings? Dosent an executrix have a fudiciary duty to us all for things like an inventory, accounting, open and honest communication? Can I sue her for breach of fudiciary duty for that?
Also, by the way, there was no probate. All the papers were filed as a small estate (under $20,000) so they (the court clerk) tells me there was no need for probate?
By they way, sis DID distribute moms funds, equally, except mine. I got a check for half of what it was supposed to be, and she did say in the letter that came with the check, that she was giving half of my share to (someone else) a caregiver. Is that not a breach of something>?
Thanks for your time.


Answer You would need to take your information to a probate attorney to find out what your next steps should be. It looks like you do have enough information to file a lawsuit against her.

--Volunteer Expert: Keith Northington


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The Dangers of Public Defense

Defendant, 18, attacks his lawyer in Hennepin Co. court
In Hennepin County Court, Dominique C.D. Cook lunged at his public defender, Fay Nosow, and hit her face. She was hospitalized.

By ROCHELLE OLSON and LORA PABST, Star Tribune staff writers

April 14, 2009 - 8:05 AM

A Hennepin County public defender was injured Monday when her 18-year-old client hit her in the face just before his hearing in a juvenile courtroom, authorities said.

Dominique C.D. Cook, who turned 18 in January, was making an appearance in front of Judge David Duffy on a bail issue for a juvenile case. Duffy was finishing up his paperwork from the previous case when he heard longtime public defender Fay Nosow scream, he said Monday evening.

Cook "was about ready to sit in his chair in the courtroom when he suddenly lunged at his own attorney," said Hennepin County sheriff's office spokeswoman Lisa Kiava.

Two sheriff's deputies were standing a couple of yards away from Cook and Nosow in the closed courtroom. They were able to subdue Cook, but not before he hit his attorney at least a couple of times, Kiava said. He did not have a weapon.

Duffy said he was looking down when Cook struck his lawyer so he didn't see the entire attack. He ran down to see Nosow, who was lying on the floor in "quite a pool of blood" with a cut above her eye. "She was quite upset," he said.

Because of the blood and the appearance of a head injury, court personnel called for an ambulance, which took Nosow to Hennepin County Medical Center. Her condition is not known.

Nosow, 58, a public defender for at least the past 15 years, was coherent and talking, and concerned about her child, who was due to come home from school, Duffy said.

It's unclear what might have prompted the attack or if Cook said anything before he lunged for Nosow. "This was a surprise and unprovoked," Kiava said.

Because Cook is now an adult, he was booked into the Hennepin County Adult Detention Center on suspicion of third-degree assault. He has not been charged.

After the attack, presiding Juvenile Judge Kathryn Quaintance sent an e-mail to court personnel saying that an incident had occurred in the Juvenile Justice Center in the 600 block of S. 6th St. during which Nosow suffered "fairly serious injuries to her face."

"This occurred very suddenly and all court personnel responded well," Quaintance wrote in the e-mail.

Sheriff's deputies provide courtroom security, but they don't necessarily stand next to a defendant, Kiava said. Hennepin County sheriff's detectives and the crime lab are continuing to investigate.

Duffy said violence in the courtroom is rare, but it happens.

"It's part of the job. It's obviously very upsetting to everyone," he said. "It's a very emotional place, the courtroom, and people don't leave their emotions at the door."

Last June, convicted double murderer Revelle Loving punched his lawyer, William Selman, in a Hennepin County District courtroom. Selman, who has been a defense lawyer for about two decades, said he had never before been hit by a client.

Earlier in 2008, the state Court of Appeals rejected an appeal for a new trial from a St. Louis County man who repeatedly punched his defense lawyer in the face. The court ruled the man gave up his right to counsel and he went on to unsuccessfully represent himself.

Nosow is one of more than 100 public defenders in Hennepin County. • 612-673-1747 • 612-673-4628

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Sunday, April 12, 2009

Oregon Proposes a "Mandatory Kill Bill" for Wild Pigs

A mother sow shot dead with her suckling piglets

Landowners in Oregon would be required by law to kill wild pigs on their property or be charged with a class a misdemeanor! How unconstitutional is that? We have consciencious objectors who do not believe in killing any living thing.

Hunted down with dogs

Execute feral pigs? We're trying, says rancher

By MARK FREEMAN Medford Mail Tribune
There's a big pig rooting its way around Jody Cyr's 400 acres of southern Coos County rangeland, and Cyr has spent the better part of the past three years doing his best to kill him.

The 32-year-old Cyr spends many offseason hunting evenings tracking the feral swine, reaching into the vast array of hunting tricks allowed year-round for this non-native, unprotected animal.

"Spotlight it. Bait it. You name it, and I've tried it," Cyr says. "I really want to kill him."

Beginning next year, Cyr might be required by law to kill him, or perhaps become a criminal for failing to do so.

A bill working its way through the Oregon Legislature takes aim at eradicating the state's populations of wild pigs, blamed elsewhere for ruining farmland and harming such native species as deer and ground-nesting birds.

Among its provisions, H.B. 2221 would require landowners to trap or shoot any feral swine known to roam their land, or at a minimum allow someone else to shoot or trap it.

Failing to do so would be a Class A misdemeanor.

Introduced at the request of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, the bill is an attempt to keep Oregon from joining states like California and Texas that are overrun with the big pigs.

Cyr calls it ridiculous to put the onus on landowners to fix the state's problems.

"You're darn right I know there's a pig on my land," Cyr says. "I've been trying to kill it for three years, and he's still alive and well. I'm telling you, it's not that easy."

Feral pigs like the ones on Cyr's ranch trace their roots to Europe and Asia. Oregon's first pigs came as an easy food source for early settlers at the mouth of the Columbia River near Astoria. Settlers would let the pigs roam freely, and then shoot them when needed.

They have never really taken off on their own in Oregon, but small pockets of pigs have cropped up. Sometimes they were planted by ranchers, who imported the swine and released them on their property in hopes of generating hunting opportunities.

Other animals have dug through fencing and rooted up adjoining land, wreaking havoc on quail and other ground-nesting birds, says Rick Boatner, the ODFW's invasive species coordinator.

That likely happened outside of Ashland more than two decades ago when a small pocket of pigs surfaced in the Sampson Creek drainage. They since appear to have been eradicated.

If swine are properly fenced in, they are managed as livestock by the Oregon Department of Agriculture. But when they escape or are hunted, they fall under the management of ODFW biologists, who want them eliminated.

Feral pigs can breed so quickly that they can overrun habitat native to other species, Boatner says.

"They really do a number on the habitat and wildlife," Boatner says.

California's feral swine populations didn't start to take off until the 1950s, he says. Now, the state has swine in all counties but one, and the population runs from 200,000 to 1 million, Boatner says.

Cyr knows those California pigs. The Powers High School principal regularly hunts them near Hollister south of San Jose and recently in the Red Bluff area.

He says pigs have roamed the Powers area for decades, and so far he's shot two — both in an area about 10 miles from his property.

Cyr disputes the notion that pigs can breed here like jackrabbits.

"If that was happening, I'd have killed 100 of them by now," he says.

Oregon's pig numbers are starting to expand in places like Central Oregon and counties bordering California could start seeing more pigs as they move northward, Boatner says.

"We don't have huge numbers — yet," Boatner says. "If we take care of it now, we won't be the next Texas or California. That's the reality 50 years from now, and then it won't cost millions to get rid of them. It will cost billions."

The bill now before the Legislature would ban the sale or purchase of feral swine hunts on public or private lands. That, Boatner says, would take the financial incentive out of future pig propagation.

To get at the current "sounder" of swine, the bill's language makes it illegal to knowingly allow a feral swine to roam your land and the requirement to trap or kill them gets at those escaped animals.

If it passes and is signed into law, it moves Cyr and others right to the front line of swine-abatement, with marching orders to get rid of all wild pigs.

"Yeah, but how are you going to do that?" Cyr says. "It's not like we don't want him dead."

The Fish and Wildlife Department recently added an amendment saying that landowners who don't want to kill the pigs themselves can cooperate on a plan to get rid of the pigs on their property to avoid violations.

"It's a get-out-of-jail-free card, if you will," Boatner says.

Cyr says he needs no law to get him to shoot that pig. What he believes he needs to tip the odds against the pig is to place a penned sow on his property to lure the amorous boar into rifle range.

"That's a little extreme," Cyr says. "But I'm not above it."

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Legal Ethics: An Executors Mishandling of an Estate

Expert: Paul D. Friedman, M.A., Ph.D., J.D. - 10/13/2006

My sister is the executor of my fathers will,she is also one of two benificiaries. I am the other.
At the time of his death, he had two automobiles. She took possission of both cars and then immediately gave one to an in-law. The other she kept for fiduciary duties. She still has possession of the one car and it has been two years since the death. It is a depreciating assest for me,and now she wants to buy it at todays fair market value,instead of at the time of death, March 2005. It will me a loss to me as a benificiary. As executor and benificiary, isnt that a conflict of interest?
She stated in a letter,dated March 5, 2005 to the estate attorney , that she purchased the car for $. 5434.00 In reviewing the account ledger, as of a month ago,there is no money put in the estate account for this car. Isnt that fraud on her part as executor?



There is no conflict of interest to have the executor (executrix) as one of the beneificiaries. However, the executor (trix) owes a fiduciary duty to all beneficiaries and must account for all of the money. If she did not deposit that money into the account, it could be fraud and breach of fiduciary duty. I would strongly suggest consulting with your own probate attorney in your state.

Very truly yours,

Paul D. Friedman, M.A., Ph.D., J.D.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Obomba Rubberstamps "State Secrets Privlidge"

Oh boy. I hate to say I told you so but I told you so. Obomba is a Bushite, staying the course for PNAC.

Sam Stein, Huff Post;

The President fully supports the Department of Justice's citing of the state secrets privilege to brush aside lawsuits targeting officials who oversaw warrantless wiretapping, spokesman Robert Gibbs said on Thursday.

"Absolutely, absolutely he does," Gibbs said, when asked if the president deemed the DOJ's legal reasoning fair. "Obviously these are programs that have been debated and discussed but the president does support that viewpoint... Obviously we are dealing with some suits and the Department of Justice will make determinations based on protecting our national security."

The DOJ has insisted that lawsuits against government officials involved in the warrantless wiretapping program be dismissed when that any trial could reveal sensitive national security information. During the campaign trail, Obama had criticized the practice of evoking the state secrets privilege as used by the Bush administration. Asked if the president continued to find his predecessor's use offensive in light of his own use, Gibbs replied, "Yes."

The distinction between how Obama and Bush were handling the issue, a White House official told the Huffington Post, would come to light once the Attorney General continued to review the cases involving the use of the state secrets privilege.

UPDATE: Per the White House official, here is the DOJ's statement on the matter as it pertains to one of those state secret cases: Jewel v. NSA.

The administration recognizes that invoking the states secret privilege is a significant step that should be taken only when absolutely necessary. After careful consideration by senior intelligence and Department of Justice officials, it was clear that pursuing this case could unavoidably put at risk the disclosure of sensitive information that would harm national security.
An examination by the Director of National Intelligence and an internal review team established by the Attorney General determined that attempting to address the allegations in this case could require the disclosure of intelligence sources and methods that are used in a lawful manner to protect national security. The administration cannot risk the disclosure of information that could cause such exceptional harm to national security.

While the assertion of states secrets privilege is necessary to protect national security, the intelligence community's surveillance activities are designed and executed to comply fully with the laws protecting the privacy and civil liberties of Americans. There is a robust oversight system to ensure this compliance.